Seattle’s city government has used its power of eminent domain in order to take control of a private property currently operating as a parking lot. The property is being purchased for an undisclosed sum taken from the state’s $30 million budget for parking issues near Seattle’s waterfront. The lot currently belongs to Myrtle Woldson, a 103-year-old woman from Spokane, who did not want to sell the property.
The irony of the situation is that the government plans to repurpose the property to be used as yet another parking lot, with the money from customers funneling directly back to the government rather than to its current private owner. The city council voted unanimously to use eminent domain, which is typically used when private properties need to be claimed by the government in order to serve a public good. According to critics of the city council vote, turning a private parking lot into a public parking lot is not quite enough justification for use of eminent domain.
“There’s no public good in that at all,” the Freedom Foundation’s Glen Morgan told Fox. “Eminent domain was originally intended for stuff like roadways, expanding roads, schools. Situations that are for the public good,” Morgan continued.
Although the city ultimately determines how much to pay Woldson for the property, Woldson can challenge any offers. She can also challenge the government’s use of eminent domain, although it’s uncertain whether or not she will take any legal action against the city council.
Seattle does have parking issues surrounding its waterfront area — a popular tourist destination. The government is likely going to have to come up with a much better parking system than the one currently being offered by Woldson if they want to justify their taking of the land.